October 30, 2020

scary call, not the Halloween kind

When I can see on my caller ID that one of the kids is calling me shortly after they've left the house, my heart races. When it is a 'nothing' phone call instead of the dreaded 'I just got in a car accident', I exhale loudly in total relief.  

The kids make fun of me, citing my nerves as over-the-top, ridiculous, another sign that I'm losing it.

At 5:15 on Wednesday (Aug 26th), Mini called me. She was on her way home from tennis practice at the high school with her BFF. BFF has her license, as does Mini.  But BFF is the oldest, so she doesn't arm wrestle anyone for the rights to the teen car. BFF has turned into Mini's chauffeur.  

Mini:  Mommy, we were in an accident. (sobbing) BFF rear-ended someone. No one's hurt. Come get me. I am in front of Culvers. It just happened. It's all my fault!

My gut lurched. I stopped dead in my tracks when I heard:  ALL MY FAULT.  Shit, what was she doing? Mini is the comic of her friends. Was she clowning around?  

Me:  What were you DOING?

Mini:  Nothing. (sobbing) I just mean, (gasp) if she didn't always have to drive me home . . . she was driving me home as usual. If she wasn't driving me home, she wouldn't have hit this other car. (sobbing)

Me:  OK, I know Mini. It isn't your fault though. Thank God everyone's OK. I'll be right there. Have you called the police?

Coach was closer to the accident than I was. He was at the pool with Curly for a quick swim before dinner. I called him and he agreed to meet me there.

The banged up car was in the middle of the street. More gut lurching. It was more than a fender bender. Yikes. Car totaled.  

BFF was talking to the policeman. He wanted to talk to the other passengers. The other girls (3 others including Mini) were hiding behind the restaurant. They didn't want the policeman to know that there were 3 passengers in the car, because in the state of Illinois a driver BFF's age is only allowed ONE passenger.

I texted Mini and ordered her to come out of hiding. While she was talking to the cop, Coach and I approached BFF. Her mom, our very good friend, was talking to the other parents. I got all choked up when BFF grabbed hold of Coach when he hugged her, like she was never going to let go. When I hugged her, she whispered to me:  "I'm so afraid of my mom."

The woman, whose car BFF hit when she didn't notice her stopped to pull into the restaurant, told the policeman that there were 3 passengers in the car, so their attempt at hiding was blown. He spoke to all of the girls.

The woman they hit also told the police that she raised 4 kids. She wasn't interested in having him write BFF a ticket. So forgiving. BFF didn't get a ticket for having too many girls in the car either. The officer asked BFF'S mom if she wanted him to do that to teach her a lesson. Our friend was like, no. Lesson learned.  

Ironically when the accident took place, Mini was not speaking to me. I grounded her for better part of the week. She went away for the weekend of the 21st to a friend's lake house. I told her MANY TIMES before she left:  do X, Y, AND Z.  When her ride arrived, she rushed to the door and when I asked, she assured me:  X,Y, AND Z DONE!

Not. So. Much. 

** (Oct 29th edit: one of 'my' babies is napping in Mini's room right now - if he was awake and I snuck in there to take a photo of the state of this room YOU WOULD ALL BE APPALLED. **

I vacuumed the entire upstairs that weekend while she was gone. I moved things, in all the bedrooms. Picture a bulldozer. Mini is not the only one with a problem, but her ability to dump it in her closet floor and act like "Well, that's done" - kills me.

She was ticked that I grounded her. All her friends were gathering to e-learn together at someone's house. She claimed that the boys don't deal with similar aftermath. I have stood in Tank's room and demanded he handle his mess before going out with friends. The difference is she LEFT FOR THE WEEKEND AND LIED THAT SHE HAD DONE HER STUFF.  

Well, no one hates being accused of a double standard more than me, because that was how I was raised.  I felt icky all week, regardless of whether or not she deserved her week-long punishment. Mini is usually chatty with me. The week sucked, but I stuck to my guns. I DID agree to release her a bit early.

While I was on a book club zoom, Mini delivered me dessert.  Heavy on the cool whip . . . there is fruit in there somewhere.  See her attached note:  UNGROUND ME FOR THE WEEKEND PLEASE.  Well, I had already told Coach I was going to let her off a few days early for good behavior, but excess cool whip never hurts.

Then the accident happened. It was a tearful evening. Mini was so worried that BFF would be in trouble. Mini was hit by the air bag and a little sore from where the seat-belt hit her, but it could've been worse.  

BFF is driving again, but not allowed to drive any friends. Makes total sense, but there aren't enough cars in our house to go around.  

Guess what is fun with e-learning:  getting a kid to sports practice at 3:00 when I have babies napping. Never figured that bit of inconvenience into the equation.  Tank and Reg golf (varsity vs JV), and Tank drives. Sometimes the boys golf in two different locations. More fun.  

Here I was, not going to talk about cars again for awhile after all my 'guess what car is in the shop this week' posts.  

Were you ever successful at wiggling out of a punishment?  Were you raised by the double standard?

**This is appearing long after the fact, so I figured I'd reference Halloween. If I had the time and you all had the patience, I could share something every day. Instead, we must live in this world of delayed posts.**


October 28, 2020

What, a short post? To swipe or pay ala carte, plus the math

Raise your hand if you tired of the caddy stories? Hmm, I don't see any hands. Are you SURE? **wink, wink, hee hee**

On to college visits . . . 

As I mentioned before launching into the caddy-stream-of-consciousness posts, we planned to be out of town three consecutive weekends. It was exhausting, as anticipated, but FUN. Being busy is sometimes a blessing, although in all honesty I don't remember the last time I felt bored. 

1997? Or maybe when Lad was 2 weeks late in June of 1998 -nothing left for me to prepare or wash or clean (plenty to eat though, an ongoing trend - see below), and Netflix didn't exist. We didn't even have cable.

Highlights from the three colleges we toured (not counting visiting Ed at college) include our kids' focus on how these colleges plan to feed them. I warned each of our guides that the way the cafeteria charged for food MATTERED to my offspring. It reminded me a little of the scene in the movie Blindside when the little brother wants to know what each coach would offer him.

A few schools scored points with their:  


One tour guide described how great it was that you could just enter the cafeteria and pay for one apple (read between the lines here: pay for each crumb you plan to ingest), and then you can always go back and buy more. 

It was a beautiful day for a campus visit.

Um, let me stop you right there . . . we are more of the EAT HUGE PILES OF FOOD family. No one in our house would purchase an apple and feign satisfaction. Ever.

Tank also asked the all-important:  How much math will you make me do? 

So, we covered the basics. 

Our first stop was Omaha to visit Coach's alma mater where we took our niece to dinner. We shared a funny story with her about one of my visits to see Coach when he was a student out there. Remind me to share later. 

They gave us an awesome personalized presentation of their business program. Super impressive. It was just our family members (Curly and Reg stayed home with friends) so totally tailored to us. 

The professor running the talk met us and said:  Hmm, a few years ago I worked  to recruit an Ed Shenanigan from Chicago. 

Yep, that would be one of our tribe. Coach decided we shouldn't tell Ed that this guy still remembers him and how he opted to go to a different school in case it might go to his head. I vetoed that, knowing Ed would not get an inflated ego. I assured the guy that Ed would've been happy at either school, but he loves where he is. 

I stopped short of saying:  Here, take Tank. He's our boobie prize. 

Totally joking. Actually at one point he described a staff member who goes out looking for internships and comes up with amazing stuff because no one can say no to him, and I pointed to Tank and said, You just described this guy, which is why we think he would be good at sales. 

Nothing like sloppy joe's in the car on the way home.
One less reason to stop. Hope no one needed to pee.

Tank: (turning in his chair, using his somewhat insincere, wise-ass voice, but in a loving way, complete with head tilt and cheesy grin) Gee, thanks Mom. 

Anytime, son.  Seriously he is going to be such an asset to a college. Wondering which one he will choose. My kids laugh when I point out that we didn't have internet searches to look up college stuff. I also point out that I never went on a single official college visit. Never sat in a class or spoke to someone about the majors offered, etc. 

All of my siblings went to school in South Bend, IN. It wasn't really a choice. How about you . . . did you take your kids on tons of college tours? Did you look at lots of places? Did you bypass college and focus on a job? Happy with your college major/career, etc? I knew the minute I graduated that business was a mistake, but there was no 'do-over' button. 

The rest of the college tours later. I know, you're on the edge of your seat.

October 26, 2020

passport search, speakers on the hood, little brother drivers, Lord-have-mercy overload

Last week (Aug '19) on the caddy appreciation day, the 0lder boys golfed the course - a rare treat.  Remember in 'Caddy Shack' when the caddies get to use the club's pool for a short time and someone drops a Baby Ruth candy bar in the pool and they all think someone pooped in the pool?  Oh, how we love that movie!  

After the golf, there was a dinner honoring the caddies and they received prizes.  (2020 edit, this dinner is just for the caddies.  When we were kids, my folks attended the caddy banquet with my brothers.  I do feel like the parents jump through lots of hoops and I wish we were included).  According to the kids, a group of hilarious golfers heckled the very sarcastic caddy master, Tom, who was serving as the emcee.  

The hecklers kept yelling out that they couldn't hear the caddy master, he needed to speak louder.  They followed that up with loads of loving statements, like:  'We love you caddy master!  You're doing a great job!'  Each time they interrupted him he had to try to stop from laughing so he could get thru his statement.  
I believe we took this to demonstrate Tank's need for a haircut.

The kids came home with a bunch of prizes.  I think this year two of my kids scored an Alexa and all 5 of them got Bluetooth speakers - some received more than one speaker and some of the speakers work underwater.  I am now confident that if we ever feel so obliged, we could easily blow the windows out of Mary Ann's house across the street.  Just saying.  

After most of them arrived home, Ed was on the phone with Lad.  

Ed:  What shorts Lad?  Where did you put them? (turns to me and whispers:)  He can't find his ID and he went to a bar with some of the golfers.  
As if they've never eaten before.  This is where babysitting as a teen has its perks over caddying - food always on hand.  Well, I did babysit for a few families as a teen who did NOT keep a well stocked fridge.

I helped him search the dirty laundry for a bit, and then Ed explained that he was looking for Lad's passport, not his drivers license.

Lad told Coach and I a few days before that he needed to renew his drivers license.  Coach was like, 'Oh you might be able to do that online.'  After the search for the passport ordeal, Lad admitted to me that he lost his license and needed to go to the DMV to replace it.   

Me:  How have you been driving?  

Lad:  I had my passport, Mom.  It's an ID. (emphasis on my name, because I am 'like a dumb-ass').   


Correct me if I am wrong, but who is the dumb-ass in this scenario?

I went to bed early that night, because sometimes that is just easier.  I found out later that Tank was the one that drove to the bar to give Lad his license passport.  Reg spilled the beans and admitted that Tank was also the one that drove the rest of them home from the course after the caddy dinner - prior to the searching thru pockets for the allusive passport.  

Why are we suddenly inviting Tank to drive whenever possible?  (2020 me:  This is weeks or maybe even days after Tank FINALLY got his license).

Besides searching all over for Lad's passport, Ed was out of sorts over a misplaced speaker.  Did he leave it in the banquet room?  Did he leave it on the roof of the car?  Me standing in the kitchen in my nightgown, 'Huh?'  Then I went to bed.

The next day when I drove to the course to drop off Reg, he pointed to the ditch, 'Keep an eye out for the missing speaker.  Ed left one speaker on the hood of the car and when we realized it Tank pulled over and we grabbed it, but then we couldn't find the other bigger speaker so Tank circled back and forth a few times so we could look for it.'  

**Just what a new driver should be doing, u-turns in the dark, seeking a speaker or two.

Ed was unsure if they had left this really big new in-the-box speaker on the front hood of the car.  Apparently they found out later that the GM of the course found the speaker unharmed in the box on the side of the road.  He returned it to Ed the next day.  Good to know that the GM of the course recognizes my brood as the picture of responsibility.  

I was still stuck on Tank driving home, AND driving back and forth several times looking for a speaker.  Can a new driver keep his eyes on the road AND search for a speaker?  Hmm.

Reg further spilled the beans when I said I had no idea why Tank was driving them home unless Ed was drinking beer.  Reg:  'No not beer, just vodka.'   

Me:  Oh, swell.  Yes, Ed is 18 and when confronted Ed swore he just had one beer.  Me:  STILL!!!  Later, Reg confided in me that Ed tried to beat him up -translation he shoved him - for being a snitch, so the education of the 13 year old continues.

Summer.  Caddies.  My house in a constant state of upheaval.  Caddy shirts and belts and hats and towels mislaid EVERYWHERE.  Passports subbing for  licenses.  My 16 year old driving to a bar with a passport for his 21 yr old brother.  My 13 year old thinking his brother is 'only' drinking vodka.  Lord have mercy.  

2020 thoughts: Curly can technically train to be a caddy next summer as a 13 year old.  Um, she's hesitant.  Mini didn't train until she was 14, so Curly could wait an additional year.  Does anyone want to cast a vote as to whether or not Curly should caddy?  She will be an excellent babysitter, but caddying pays better and she could try for the Evans Scholarship.  She could also teach Irish dancing private lessons and make a KILLING, but I do hope that she quits Irish dancing when she starts high school (she's in 7th now), so teaching private lessons would not be a summer job option.  

October 23, 2020

it's a family thing & MY HOOD HATH ARRIVED

I don't golf and I have never caddied, but the retelling of the golf course related adventures was a high point of my days this summer - and prior summers too.  

I vividly remember when Ed first started caddying.  We now had two caddies who shared inside jokes and hearty laughs.  During dinner one night, Lad described how a rookie caddy tried to carry a heavy bag.  This kid reached for a ball or something and fell into the little lake on the course.  Even though Ed was there to witness it, when Lad retold the tale Ed sprayed his milk all over the table . . . thru his nose.  

The boys were so busy this summer, the course recap did not even happen daily, but when it did I tuned in.  I learned not to ask questions for fear of being scolded in the 'How do you NOT know how caddying works by now, Mother?' kind of way, but to just let the tale unfold.  There were hilarious golfers whose sense of humor entertained my kids.  There were golfers who requested my guys regularly.  My caddies had different opinions about which golfer was better at:  tips, putts, jokes, earning an income, drinking, schmoozing, etc.  

Reg assured me from time to time that his favorite golfer Mr. B made him laugh but that it was too inappropriate to be shared.  Great to know that along with raking in good tips, my 13-year-old (Reg's age in 2019) is getting an education.  Lad and Ed saw Mr. B at the course one day last week when Reg couldn't caddy.  

Mr. B was told that some little scrawny kid was his caddy.  He walked over to him and said, 'Oh, so you're my caddy?  What's your name, Sarah?'  Then on each hole Mr. B held his club up high and continued to raise it higher and higher encouraging his 'Sarah' caddy to jump for it.  'Come on, you almost had it that time!'  

A few nights before the boys left for college the course honored the caddies with a caddy day.  (**Note to self:  we changed Lad's flight back to school for his senior year so that he could attend this event that was of course scheduled at the last minute.  This is something I need to remember when he spews his recent hatred at us).  The 3 older boys golfed the course during the day.  Some of their favorite golfers, who support the caddy program and apparently also support the bar with multiple visits, golfed with them.  The stories were endless, the laughs contagious and I didn't even understand what the Hell they were talking about.  

I never dreamt Mini would stick it out as a caddy.  I assumed she would barely survive the basic training, caddy for a few loops, and then beg to sleep late and accept babysitting jobs - anything not to caddy.  Mini lands tons of babysitting jobs so her caddying is more limited than her brothers, but she has stuck with it and joins in the boys' banter.  

She even managed to tolerate the boys' imitation of her which includes her struggling under the weight of a golf bag.  She walks at a 45 degree angle to the ground.  Ed has begged me to get her to tame her mop, which we have recently referred to as the Heath Leger look. 

This photo of (in order from left, taken in Oct '19) Ed, Tank, Mini, Reg shows the aftermath of caddying: extreme hunger. Plus you get a look at Mini's hair, although it is more tame in her messy bun than the usual Heath-pony.

Similar to my issue recognizing music by name, etc.  I can NEVER remember Heath's name, so when I tell my 'look how Mini is sporting a Heath Ledger in 'The Patriot' look' joke - I usually ruin it as I stand there and try to remember the dude with the messy pony tail in 'The Patriot'.  Or I remember Heath's name, but I can't think of the name of the flick.  It would be such a good joke.

I might have to rethink my Irish dan
cing book, my potty training book, my how-to-parent book geared towards the new-age clueless parent, and dive right into a mother-of-caddies memoir.  The stories are endless now that we have 5 participants, not to mention Coach used to caddy alongside my brothers Pat and Mike.  I grew up hearing hilarious caddy stories across the dinner table.  

In high school, I babysat for a family who paid me well for caring for their kids while they golfed, but then I discovered how much MORE they were paying my brothers to carry their clubs.  There are layers here, folks!

In 2020, I am thinking about how caddying is almost like working for a family owned business.  The caddies have had their share of 'don't-embarrass-me' moments.  The morning of a big tournament this summer, Lad failed to come home.  Coach and I stood in the kitchen watching Ed pace.  Tank, Mini, and Reg stood at the door, poised and ready to bolt.  Lad was expected to be at the course, dressed and ready at the first hole shortly.  No sign of him.  He wasn't answering his phone.  Ed and Lad were in the same group.  Ed would be expected to explain Lad's whereabouts to his golfer - it was day two of the tournament.  There wouldn't be a caddy to fill in for him as everyone had their assignments.  

At the last minute, Lad called.  Ed told Lad:  Meet us at the course.  I'll leave your clothes in the car.  Car unlocked.  Hurry!

I guess you could say we had more than just who-is-taking-what-car kind of stress this summer.  I wish I could say it's all resolved, but as you now know the situation has escalated.  Sigh.

The next post is back to 2019 goofiness . . . BUT FIRST - after a 3 year wait, the hood was installed on Thursday. This is Wed - the night before the much anticipated crowning jewel to the kitchen and I am giddy with excitement.

Excuse the excess pictures - I am slightly obsessed. Personally, I think it's HOOD-ILICIOUS!

Anyone else wait THREE YEARS to get a part of their kitchen/other room/project done?

October 21, 2020

my own Caddy Shack rewrite: a caddy mom's perspective

Welcome to shark caddy week. You've heard of shark week with those low-budget, so-dumb-they're funny movies? Well, I have a stockpile of caddy stories that I hope are more entertaining than your standard shark shit. It's my hope that at the end of these true tales you'll vote for a new installment of Caddy Shack because more happens in one summer for a caddy than it does to a beach goer who may or may not fear a tornado that suddenly rains sharks. Get your popcorn.

I was trying to go back to sleep this morning.  ‘Trying’ operative word.  My stupid elbow was hurting.  (2020 version of myself is cringing remembering the tennis elbow pain of last year).  I don’t know what I do when I sleep but apparently it involves break dancing or handstands or something that tennis elbow sufferers should avoid.  

While I struggled to sleep, I drafted this post in my mind.  Not all that easy without a keyboard.  I was still in bed trying to lay perfectly still, so as not to piss off the elbow that plays tennis when the owner of the elbow doesn't play tennis.

I woke up at 5:20, dragged Reg out of his top bunk, drove him to the caddy shack so he was there by 5:45 am.  As in, before 6:00 am.  I did the same routine yesterday, and I admit that I find it very unpleasant.  Yesterday it was Mini and Reg, but Mini went with Coach to Milwaukee yesterday after he and I met for dinner part way to Milwaukee so she wasn’t here this morning.  

Coach is taking a class in Milwaukee, and Mini is hanging out with a Milwaukee cousin.  My sister, Marie, texted me photos of the breakfast and lunch that Mini and cousin ate out today.  As in both meals eaten at a restaurant.  Pretty sure Mini will not be returning home.  Like, ever.  Who could blame her?  

I can imagine that phone call:  ‘Come on, you know how fun it is to get out of bed before 5:30 am to caddy?  Eating out is totally overrated.  I make great meals and eating leftovers a few times a week is boss.  Your room needs to be cleaned and Monday morning is the everyone-take-a-turn-to-clean-part-of-the-bathroom day, so lots to look forward to.  How soon will you be coming home?’

The painful elbow was only part of the need-more-sleep-but-can’t-fall-asleep issue that I experienced yesterday.  The other slight disruption:  Tank was shouting because he couldn't find his caddy shirt.  

Translation to those who exist in a non-caddy world:  my older caddies don't have to get to the course at ungodly hours.  They often go an hour or two later than the newbies.  Seniority has its privileges.  

My preference is that they go quietly though.  Tank -  hollering that Eddie wore his shirt, leaving him without one is IRRITATING at 6:45 am - or really ANYTIME of day.

Guess what sentence I often utter, and is often ignored? 
 ‘Get your shit together the night before!’  

I wrote names in caddy shirts and across caddy towels a few months ago to avoid this kind of situation.  Well that worked well.
This is Ed in Oct 2019.  I think he was home for break, which was just a weekend, but enough time to squeeze in a loop or two.

My newbie caddies didn't even get a loop (not enough golfers playing for the number of caddies) yesterday, so my early crawl out of bed  was all for naught.  After I drove them, I slept 35 additional, glorious minutes before Tank woke me to drive him to his legit landscaping gig.  Then I slept another 45 minutes before my alarm went off to workout. 

This morning, I wasn’t planning to attend a workout class.  I just wanted to get some z’s.  Last night I drove half way to Milwaukee to meet Coach for dinner at his brothers house.  I had Reg, Min, and Curly with me (then Mini left with Coach to head to cousin's house - confused?  Me too).  I fought sleep as I drove home late, so not terribly surprised when I woke up and realized that I left the garage door open all night.  

Ironically just last night, my sister-in-law and I traded funny/scary stories about police ringing our doorbell in the middle of the night after seeing a garage door up.  

So, I was surprised when the garage door was up, but I was also KINDA surprised/ticked off when I noticed that the teenage car was NOT on the driveway.  

Lad.  Never came home.  Well, that was uncool.  

I had an inkling that he hadn’t come home, because as I stood in the kitchen getting Reg ready to go to the golf course, I noticed that Lad’s shoes weren’t tossed around the kitchen.  There was also an absence of weird food left out or sprinkled across the island or dripped on the floor or whatever. 

‘No mess?  Bet Lad never came home.’ I grumbled to my half-asleep-self.  This is the thought process the mother of an almost 21 year old will have from time to time.  Guessing I'm not alone there. 

My 2020 self is realizing how much better life is with 4 of 5 caddies now licensed to drive. Still, it's not as if we had enough cars for each of them to get to the caddy shack when they wished.  There was often a late night 'who's-on-first' conversation to figure all that out.  Late night conversations NEVER lead to misunderstandings (wink, wink, eyeroll, dramatic head shake), so we had that going for us LIKE ALL SUMMER.  Obviously.  

Anyone have a memory of a summer job that required you to be up at an ungodly hour?  I worked at Burger King and I was so reliable that I had my own key and was trusted to open the store.  Well, that is a story for another day, but I was often awake at 5:30 am back in those days.  Ick.

October 19, 2020

redefining driving up to the first tee, and solving caddy hunger one brown bag lunch at a time

The caddy season is winding down.  We might get a few amazing, unseasonably warm days this fall, but the hustle and bustle of green-shirted kids sleepily dragging their butts to the car is becoming less common.  Exhibit A & B:

No one will pose for a caddy photo in the morning, and they get home at different times and they nap or shower right away. Ed seen here wiping sleep out of his eyes, and carrying his shoes.  Reg is giving me the stop-taking-our-picture stink eye.

Lad hopping in the car and Mini bringing up the rear - it was a while ago, but if I had to guess I'd say there was a towel dispute and Mini lost.  It's hard to tell but I think Tank was driving and I think the car was moving when Lad tried to get in.  Of course there is no arguing on the driveway out of respect for a sleeping Mary Ann.

Last year I wrote a few caddy-themed posts and then never posted them.  Instead I shared how that awful family reserved a spot in my daycare and then cancelled last minute- then the caddy stuff was out of season.  Going out on a limb here:  guessing you aren't  opposed to reading something unseasonable.  Thought I'd explain my out-of-chronology posts that are headed your way though.  Please note:  in these 'old' posts, Tank has only recently gotten his drivers license.  

Today Tank enjoys taking the Great White for a ride.  Who wouldn't, with its king-of-the-road feel and its gas cap duct tape closure?  He drove GW to a golf course a few weeks ago for a match.  He used his GPS to find the course and he apparently continued to follow the GPS when he couldn't find the parking lot/entrance.  It directed him down a small narrow path.  

Well . . . it turned out that this was actually a cart path.  Half of his team was standing at a tee box and here comes Tank chugging along in GW.  

I hope they don't cancel the end of the season assembly that the high school hosts to honor the athletes, because I have a pretty good feeling Tank's arrival at the tee in our giant 12 seater, former airport shuttle and his subsequent ordeal of backing up down the cart path MIGHT get mentioned.  

The golf coach always has something funny to say about Tank at these small gatherings.  I brace for it each year, will it be funny-ha-ha, or funny-dear-God-how-is-this-my-son?  

These are a series of texts from Reggie.  
When I look back at our texting history,
 they're almost exclusively 
caddy related.

One year after a match in the bus with the team, Tank was doing his usual asking-50-questions-about-nothing of the coach.  When trying to get the coach's attention, Tank inadvertently called him "Dad."  Well, that was fairly memorable and the entire team bust a gut laughing.  I don't think Tank has lived that down yet.  Another time he apparently convinced the whole team that in certain states out west, a civilian can pull someone over and issue them a citation.  I have no idea where he comes up with his 'material', but he is well known for his  witty obscure insights/BS.

So, I have a caddy incident to share (get excited) and then I plan to post the caddy adventures from last season.  I don't think they'll disappoint.  It is, after all, the 40th anniversary of the movie 'Caddy Shack', so consider these posts my shout-out to a movie that is often quoted if not re-enacted in our house on the regular. 

I know many moms complain that
 their teens don't say much to them
 - at least I have these riveting texts.
This post is lengthier than it appears due
 to these texts inserted - feel free to
skip, they MIGHT be repetitive.

Reg was the only kid caddying one day late in the summer.  He texted me to say that he had waited for hours but he wasn't going to get out.  (GETTING OUT, GETTING A LOOP, etc. EQUATES HAVING A GOLFER PAY YOU TO CARRY HIS GOLF BAG).

Before I left to pick him up, he texted back: Nevermind, I'm getting out.

A minute later he texted to ask me to STILL bring him lunch.  'Big lunch' is implied. I had to hurry- his golfer was going to tee off any minute.

Well, shit.  We live 12 minutes from the golf course.  

I threw together a lunch and started driving.  I texted him at the stoplights:  WHERE AM I DROPPING OFF YOUR LUNCH?  TENNIS COURTS OR MEMBERS' ENTRANCE?

You would be right to assume that the members just love seeing my giant van with peeling paint and duct tape pull into the 'members entrance'.  'Tennis courts' is the 'approved' back entrance for the lowly caddies.  It's where they're allowed to park their cars, close proximity to the caddy shack.

Reg told me to pull into the members' entrance.  Tom, the caddy master, would  grab Reg's lunch because his guy was going to tee off any second.

Tom, the caddy master, is a character.  He's the guy who coined the phrase a few summers ago when my 5 caddies approached his podium where he assigns caddies to golfers' bags:  

"Here come the Shenanigans.  Move of be moved."  

I want that on a tee-shirt.

Tom's a sarcastic dude.  He gives two shits about what anybody thinks.  I double over on the regular when my kids come home and tell me stuff Tom says.  

At one point this summer I was so frustrated with my caddies arguing over shirts and towels AT THE CRACK OF DAWN that I texted Eddie and told him to ask Tom to order a bunch of new towels and I would pay for the entire order.

Ed texted back and said, Tom said to tell you that's what you get for having so many damn kids.  Then he admitted that Tom hadn't said that but he would've if Ed actually bothered to ask him. Somehow my kids know what texts to send and what texts NOT to send, even if their delightful mother requests it, damn it.

My kids heard my nephew, Alan - a less experienced caddy who doesn't go all that often, tell Tom this summer that he couldn't carry two bags or maybe that he couldn't go out a second time because his mom didn't want him to.  Alan is a little younger than Reggie.


Reggie is not soft, BUT he is spoiled.  When Lad and Ed started caddying they didn't have phones.  They had to ask to use a landline in the bag room to call me when they were done.  And they waited.  Like, WAITED - for someone to pick them up because I was often busy.  They also sat in the caddy shack (learning a thing or two about stuff you don't tell your mother you just learned at the caddy shack) FOREVER waiting to get a loop.

Reg, on the other hand, has older siblings who drive to the course and are usually waiting to drive his ass home.  Reg often gets outstanding loops just because he's  associated with 'the family.'  He gets plugged into foursomes that the other siblings have been hand-picked to caddy in.  

Occasionally the older kids have to remind Reg of how fortunate he is.  In other words they tell him often, "Reg shut the ef up."

I pulled into the course in my not-so-conspicuous vehicle past the beautiful flowering member entrance.  Drove as close to the grassy section as I dared - farther away from where cars parked and dangerously close to the course - but crafty enough to NOT drive to the first tee like Tank did.  I hoped Tom would spot me.  

Silly me, EVERYONE spotted me.

Anyone noticing a theme here?

The caddies all look alike, but I was pretty sure I spotted Reggie approaching the first hole.  I hoped he was right, that Tom would show up.  I wondered if the older boys would be upset that Reg bothered Tom with a lunch pick-up request.  

In this text we see that young Reg has forgotten
the cardinal rule:  NEVER WAKE UP MOMMY.
Thankfully Curly knew better.

Suddenly out of nowhere, Tom's face appeared slightly below eye-level of the passenger window.  He was driving a cart. He reached his hand in the window to grab Reggie's meal-on-wheels.  I had never met him:  the man, the myth, the legend.  

Tom:  Mrs. Shenanigan?

Me:  Hi Tom.  So, caddy-masters do lunch delivery now?

Tom:  Oh, I do it all.  Thanks for bringing this for him.  

I watched him zip away, toss Reg his plastic bag lunch with one hand while giving a wave to the golfers with the other.  I assume he made a wise-ass remark about how he needs to feed his men.

I turned ole inconspicuous around in the parking lot  As I drove away, I could see that Reg already had half his sandwich shoved in his pie hole while balancing his bag on his opposite shoulder.  

The older brothers did give Reg a hard time, as anticipated, because of the lunch thing.  

And this is why I feel compelled to write a book about my life as the mother to a crowd of caddies.  **Imaging my readers eye-rolling:  "Feels like you already did with this lengthy piece." ** 


Anyone with caddy blood in them? Has anyone ever known a caddy? Have you seen Caddy Shack?

October 16, 2020

The whole draining story

No idea how to shorten this - spent so much time writing it, but I feel like it'd be more poignant if it was more brief. I am opting to insert brackets/diff color font around parts that you can gloss over, easier than cutting out entire stories because some of them overlap and revising that exhausts me. Sorry, and I promise no judgement if you take the abbreviated path here. Really, who has time for a post this long?

Yesterday’s post was written weeks ago. Things were bad, but we still figured there was going to be a point at which things improved. Instead, things have continued to spiral out of control. 

Lad. Doesn't seem that long ago.

For 6 weeks Lad drove a car with no insurance and when we urged him to get the car insured, he blamed us for not adding his car to our policy.

We would have GLADLY done this, if he was approachable or willing to meet us halfway on SOMETHING. Plus we couldn’t add him because the car was solely in his name. He yelled at us **via text** for not just arranging to add ourselves to his title . . . and this is done how? When we don’t have your title and our only communication with you is being on the other end of rage, how do we go about adding ourselves to your title? Illogical.

[A perfect example of life with Lad:  one morning he had no almond milk, so he went to the store to buy some. I was at the island making my protein shake. He came home and poured my skim milk in his blender while the newly purchased almond milk sat at his elbow. He blamed me, like not just “I wish you hadn’t left the skim out,” - he hollered at me, THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT, YOU LEFT THE SKIM SITTING RIGHT THERE. That was our life, unpredictable and frustrating.]

I know earlier in the pandemic I alluded to some of Lad’s struggles. Ed and I spent many nights pouring over websites trying to figure out what the ef was wrong with Lad. We thought we had it pinpointed to a personality disorder, maybe Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)?

For my writing class, I had to write a feature. Needed to interview someone. That’s not the kind of writing I like. I bounced back and forth about what I should do:  write about something light and fluffy like caddying? Or something broad like adoption? Or something unfortunately personal like mental illness? 

I chose mental illness. Coach and I had a Zoom session with NAMI, National Alliance of Mental Illness, and I figured I could interview one of the very helpful volunteers we spoke with, but I ended up interviewing a family friend, ‘Fred,’ who Coach reminded me had a tough time in high school.

Fred agreed to reach out to Lad telling Coach and I:  I’m happy to try to get through to him. I didn’t talk to my mom for 2 years. Medication saved my life. 

While I wrote my paper, I read books from the library about Bipolar Disorder. There are 3 different ‘levels’. I read about Borderline Personality Disorder. I am now convinced that Lad falls somewhere in there. Often multiple disorders present together, and so Lad (who is very narcissistic) could have BPD and also have NPD. 

Basically NAMI instructed us to set boundaries. [Lad started showing up here to sleep, after we were asleep. One morning I drove Mini to her friend’s house to e-learn. I raced home for a Zoom appointment and forgot to lock the car. Lad took a golf club from Tank’s bag in the trunk of our car and drove away in his uninsured used car. Tank was SO distraught. 

Lad gave Tank the club at the beginning of the summer and told him he could keep it. Tan is on the golf team. 

I called Lad and told him to return the club or I would call the police. He was headed to the health club that’s attached to Coach’s office. Coach walked next door, ditching patients for a few minutes and told him to return it, but Lad refused. Coach warned him once more that the police would be called.]

Should I have called the cops, or not? (rhetorical, please don’t answer this in comments) Was this what NAMI meant by setting boundaries? Was Lad going to start to see that there were no more eggshells?

The cop came to my house, then he and I drove separately to the health club which gave Lad plenty of time to leave. The cop called Lad from his car. He told Lad that he was going to give me instructions on evicting him. This was NOT my request, just the cops injecting this. It pushed Lad over the edge.

[This was the one night that Coach and I were invited to hang with neighbors, the ‘cool kids’ implied - not immediate neighbors, obviously. A very fun couple down the street who we SO enjoy, but who have a dedicated group they normally socialize with (Coach and I are not usually included, probably because we can’t keep up with the alcohol consumption, I assume). We weren’t in the mood, but we went. We walked onto their deck and the woman took one look at us and was like: WHAT’S WRONG? We stayed for a while, trying to fake it.] 

The advice of my therapist is not to tell people what we’re dealing with, then it’s ‘out there.’ Well, for an open-book type like myself that’s next to impossible. I wear stuff on my sleeve. So now I cringe going to the grocery store. My argument to her is this:  That approach seems to fuel the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Shhh! Don’t tell, what would people think?

While at neighbors, Ed texted us to say that he got a text from Lad:  GOOD-BYE ED.

Needless to say, we said good-night and left. 

Coach was able to talk to Lad on the phone. He sounded angry. I emailed my therapist, who then alerted the head honcho. I assume they had Lad’s therapist reach out to him - a therapist that we switched to after Chip failed miserably, but one that Lad most likely hasn’t been seeing at all. No idea, thanks HIPPA. Coach and I sat in front of the computer for over an hour waiting for instructions, news, SOMETHING from my therapist. I realized:  HIPPA. We went to bed and tried to sleep.

I can see Lad’s bank account, it’s linked to ours. He doesn’t have a credit card. He doesn’t have much money, but when he gets money he drops it like it’s hot. A few weeks ago, he bought something at a place called Chicago Reptile for $438. I suppose a cage and supplies were involved, but guessing that he dropped some serious moola on a reptile. 

I would’ve made a damn fine detective. 

**editing to add: Today he spent $240 at an online sports betting app. Swell.**

Spending piles of money is a symptom of BPD. This explains why last year Lad charged so much shit on our ‘emergency-only’ credit card, like $300-$550 a month - and he already had a food fund/card thing. I was like, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? This year with him NOT in college, I feel like I got a raise. 

I had to insist that Coach stop texting him stuff like, ‘We can’t sleep. We’re worried about you.’ All summer when I KNEW something was not right, Coach was a few steps behind me in a fog of denial. We reached out to NAMI, and they agreed. Coach had to stop trying to engage Lad via text. It just invited our oldest son to rage at us and spew insulting things our way.

Lad hates me. Like he has said the most God awful things directed at me, and more recently started to hate on Coach too. 

Enter Tim, that’s his real name. I don’t have enough respect to give him a fake name. Tim and his wife were friends of ours when the kids were younger. We left Catholic School and we drifted from that social circle. Tim fell off the wagon and they divorced. He has hired Lad to do workouts with his high school son to get him ready for football.

When all the ‘follow-our-rules’ shit hit the fan, Tim stepped in and had Lad stay with him at his lake house. We texted Tim back and forth. He’d say things like “Lad’s a great kid, he’s just complicated.” My response: “Lad’s a great kid, who has a mental illness.”

NAMI suggested we try to get Tim away from Lad. He’s creating a space where Lad can feel normal, etc. Coach called Tim after the ‘Good-bye Ed’ text and told him that since we all want what’s best for Lad, we needed him to stop inviting Lad to his house, giving him lawn jobs to do and paying him $400, etc. Tim had always updated us when Lad was coming to the lake.

Last weekend while at Creighton, I noticed Lad was at Tim’s based on tolls paid and the fact that Tim once again paid him $400. This time, Tim didn’t share that Lad was with him. So Tim must be darkside, starting to drink Lad’s kool-aid. Oh, and Tim is completely wasted anytime Coach calls him: ‘I’ll talk to him about respect, etc’We’re like NO - this isn’t about respect it’s about a kid who needs to get help, but the kid isn’t seeing it yet. No amount of ‘buck up camper, talk nice to your folks’ speech is going to cure anything. 

Monday morning Lad got a flat tire. He texted Coach to berate him for being a horrible father for not teaching him how to change a flat. We thought:  this is it, he’s going to need us to help pay for tires. We even fist-bumped. 

Our goal: sit down with him and compromise/find common ground. This suggestion by NAMI made sense.

Tim’s money bailed Lad out with the tires. Foiled. 

[Fred met with Lad. Lad told him he’s renting a room for only $300 from a guy he used to work with at the restaurant over the summer. (honestly, I’m happy he has a place to stay that is reasonable). The issue is that it’s CRAZY far - like probably an hour and a half from his job selling cars for a family friend. And he drives like a maniac. He also told Fred that he figured he was covered with car insurance. Um, no. **As of today, he did finally get car insurance.**]

I included in my paper how we are just so desperate for a guide, a map, a sure-thing, but that doesn’t exist. 

Coach has really been struggling. Maybe I was doing better because I read the books and I felt informed, plus the awful texts come to Coach’s phone since I am essentially dead to him. I’ve been upset, taking things one day at a time. I recently read Bibliomama’s post about waking up unsure of which thing to worry about, and I thought - ME TOO. Only I knew I was waking up to worry about Lad, but it took me a minute to refresh my mind on the latest development. 

I got the sense that Coach was hoping we could lure Lad to the house and sit him down, talk some sense into him, even though Coach swears that isn’t what he thinks. I have a good friend whose daughter battled Anorexia for years, so maybe I’m just more aware that these things TAKE TIME - and sweet Jesus, does that suck.

[After the day we feared Lad might take his life, I reached out to a woman, Katrina, whose son committed suicide two years ago. He was a year older than Lad and they’d been on swim team and water polo together since they were in junior high. I always gravitated towards this mom. My heart breaks for her. Lad took his old buddy’s death very hard.

Katrina invited me over and we talked for hours. I hoped that Lad could meet with her (as I knew she’d do anything to help another family) and that she might urge him to get the help that she wishes her son would’ve gotten. She agreed to help in any way she could. Coach texted Lad telling him I bumped into Katrina and that I mentioned how Lad still remembers her son’s birthday. “Katrina would like you to stop by the house,” Coach texted him that she has little candles that she gives out to her son’s friends when they visit.

Lad blew up, texting back to get out of his way during his grieving process and how dare we speak on his behalf, etc.] 

I assured Coach on Tuesday as I cut his hair that God is not intending for us to be anxious or to worry, that He will take care of things. We can only do our part. This message was compliments of my very timely rosary meditation that morning. I insisted to him that we’re in for a long battle. We both recognize that our son might never seek help. Scary. He might always live like this. 

Today (after all of my reassuring to Coach), I fell apart. Lad texted Reg and called him repeatedly. He wanted him to put the box of new clothes he bought (as he scrapes by financially) out on our porch so he could come by and pick it up. Coach and I disagreed on how to approach this. Coach didn’t want to upset him. I didn’t want to be manipulated. The clothes were Lad’s. He paid for them. Coach insisted we put them out there. We turned to NAMI for guidance, and ultimately let him pick up the clothes.

Delilah brought her teenage daughter to meet the baby twins today, they showed up as I was debating our approach through short texts and calls to Coach. Scolding Reg for answering his phone, even though this isn’t his fault. I started to cry in the kitchen as they played with the babies in the family room. My tears wouldn’t stop.

I went to my room to take my contacts out. I COULD NOT compose myself. I sobbed and sobbed. How is this our life? This nightmare I’m not supposed to share. A nightmare with no official ending point. 

Oh, and by the way, BPD is usually caused my two things: genetics and childhood trauma, like child abuse or neglect. We don’t really have much of a family history of mental illness - a few people with alcoholism, I had a cousin with OCD, but nothing like this. 

Guess how much I have beaten myself up for the supposed abuse? A bunch. I was a stay-at-home mom, I just had the one job. I swear the kid was loved to pieces. But was I too hard on him at times? Should we have yanked him from the school where he was bullied? If I didn’t have 5 other well-adjusted kids who have great relationships, are able to be held accountable, and possess the ability to self-reflect I would feel worse, I suppose. If feeling worse is possible, but really - what did we do wrong? How can we fix it now?

Today when I fell apart I felt overwhelmed by the constant thought process of what next, how should we approach this? What if he does that? Will he get insurance? Can we get him away from this ass-hat Tim who “sees a lot of himself in Laddie” - oh, that’s swell. Every mother’s dream. How will we explain his absence at holidays? How will I write my Christmas poem? Will we always be a broken family? How will all of this impact my younger kids? 

Maeve knocked gently on my bathroom door, “Um, Mommy. So, you left the monitor on (baby monitor that is on during naps in my room - so Delilah and her daughter were downstairs playing with the twins with my wailing as the soundtrack). It’s OK, I turned it off. Do you want me to do something for you? Can I get you something?” - as she rubbed my back. My baby.

I asked her to get my phone and I called Coach sobbing as I leaned over my bathroom countertop:  I don’t think I’m strong enough for this. I just don’t know what to do anymore and I’m tired, so tired of thinking about all of it. It’s too hard, Coach. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO? 

Coach, who never abandons a patient, took my call in another room. Told me to go write all of it down . . . well, this is hours later because my flood of tears would have no doubt shorted out my laptop, but here I am. Writing it down, after deciding to post the initial inkling in yesterday’s post that has been sitting in my drafts for weeks. 

I intended to cut this down because who has time to read this long-ass shit. I envisioned writing something short and simple about the emotional ups and downs. Something eloquent. 

Instead, this is what poured out of me.

I wonder crazy shit like, should we just have kept the egg-shell-walking thing going on? We were so damn good at it. What if our original therapist, Chip, was any good at what he did (although in my research it does say that BPD is often hard to diagnose) instead of brushing this off as ‘he just needs to get a job and move out because he was doing fine when he was at school in New York.’ Um, define ‘fine’. 

Not to mention the issues the years leading up to this that should've tipped him off.

Lad had no friends at college. He was spending money out the ass to fill some void. Physically fought with the two roommates he scrounged up when his water polo teammates refused to live with him 2 years in a row. Sounds like a textbook case of a healthy kid not adjusting well to life back with his folks, right? 

Writing is my break from the pain. Not sure how or why, but if I can find something silly to write about it distracts from our current reality. So, I have a million posts about normal-life stuff lined up ready to drop. I haven’t been sure if I could share this or if I should share this.

I do credit the pandemic to bringing the severity of the situation to light. Him living here opened our eyes.

Please be gentle in your comments, not saying don’t comment - just PLEASE DON’T TELL ME HOW THIS SOUNDS SO MUCH LIKE A KID WHO IS JUST HAVING A HARD TIME ADJUSTING TO LIFE AT HOME AFTER THE FREEDOM OF COLLEGE (implied: DURING COVID). If that is what you think, re-read this (that’s your punishment, wink wink - get it, cause it’s long) until you understand.  

Mental illness is a bitch. So is Mary Ann, but at least she usually stays across the street and is easy to laugh at.  **And with that, I feel better already. That was your little gift for getting to the end.**